Social Media is Not the Only Route to Young Adults

It’s always intriguing to come across a survey that defies conventional wisdom. Late last month, Epsilon put forth a report that seems counterintuitive. According to the firm’s research, young adults, those in the 18–34 year-​old bracket, would like to get their marketing pitches via snail mail or the daily newspaper. The research shows this demographic group prefers the traditional media formats to social media for promotional purposes.

The preference is particularly strong for specific product categories. The numbers below show the percentages of younger consumers who want marketing pitches from offline sources. The numbers who prefer online pitches appear  in parentheses:

  • Personal care: 62% (22%)
  • Food products: 66% (23%)
  • Cleaning products: 66% (20%)

However, the offline preference does not apply to all categories. For example, travel marketers should not stop their social media investment. The survey revealed that young adults definitely prefer online to offline sources when they are making travel plans.

What was Epsilon’s major finding in this study? “A key takeaway from this research is that marketers targeting coveted 18–34 year-​olds who are tempted to invest solely in social media could be missing a significant portion of their audience,” says Warren Storey, a vice president at ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting.  The numbers from this survey do seem to support the concept of spreading an ad budget across multiple channels to reach the largest audiences.

Storey emphasizes that marketers should also consider the industry in which they operate. For example, consumers in the market for healthcare services and products rank the following sources as most trustworthy:

  • Friends/​family 57%
  • Newspapers 26%
  • Websites 22%
  • TV 20%
  • Brochures/​flyers 18%
  • Facebook 8%
  • YouTube 7%
  • Twitter 7%

When you combine that kind of fragmentation with the fact that significant numbers of men still do not have a social media account, Epsilon’s study makes a great deal of sense. Social media may be increasing its influence as it becomes more accepted and trusted but for now, marketers need to cast a wide media format net when they advertise products and services.

[Source: Young Adults Strongly Prefer Offline to Online Sources. Epsilon​.com. 24 Aug. 2010. Web. 14 Sept. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.